Mississippi State saved its best for last in the 2001 Deacon Invitational Volleyball Tournament, closing out play in the two-day event with a 3-1 win over East Carolina. Earlier in the day, the Bulldogs battled the Big Ten Conference's Northwestern's Wildcats before bowing 3-1.

"We knew coming into this tournament that we were facing three excellent teams from three very good volleyball conferences," said coach Brenda Bowlin. "Overall I am very pleased with the way we competed --- we were aggressive and played with a great deal of energy. That's what we're looking for. And playing the caliber of teams that we faced on the opening weekend will give us a good evaluation of where we are and where we want to go."

Junior Misty Hubenthal had a match-high 17 kills and added eight digs to lead MSU past East Carolina in four games, 30-28, 26-30, 30-18 and 30-20. Jennifer Rousey had 11 kills and four blocks on a productive .429 hitting performance and Lauren Bounds had a career-best 10 kills.

The Bulldogs registered a weekend-best .314 hitting mark en route to winning the third game and finished the match with a .165 team hitting mark. State also registered 20 total blocks, seven by sophomore Hilary Chambers. Senior setter Dawn Steinhauser, back in the MSU lineup after sitting out the first two matches of the tournament, piled up a match-high 20 digs and had six kills during a .462 hitting performance.

In the earlier match, Northwestern University took advantage of a decided height advantage to register a four-game win, 30-18, 30-17, 20-30, 30-26. Middle blocker Jennifer Rousey's carded a career-high 14 kills while Misty Hubenthal had eight kills and a dozen digs. The Wildcats, 2-0, were to have met host unbeaten Wake Forest for the championship of the Deacon Invitational.

Mississippi State (1-2) now turns its attention to this weekend's second annual MSU/Ramada Inn Classic. The Bulldogs welcome Louisiana-Lafayette, Murray State and Troy State to Humphrey Coliseum for the two-day event. Friday's opening round matchups pit Murray State against UL-Lafayette at 4:30 p.m. and MSU against Troy State at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for admission to the tournament.

Northwestern (2-0) def. MSU (0-2) 3-1 (30-18, 30-17, 20-30, 30-26)
MSU (1-2) def. East Carolina (0-3) 3-1 (30-28, 26-30, 30-18, 30-20)

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